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Buddhadharma : Summer 2012
SUMMER 2 0 1 2 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 75 Inside Film What inspired you to make a film about your teacher, Chögyam Trungpa? In 1983 I was in Boulder editing the film The Lion’s Roar. At a private interview with Rinpoche, he asked me to make a “Shambhala film.” Frankly, I didn’t know what a Shambhala film would or could be, but I said yes. Four years later, he was gone. I directed the filming of his cremation and made a short edit from the sixteen-millimeter footage, but there was no funding to develop a proper film. Years went by, during which I taught a lot of Shambhala training. Then one day I woke up and realized what my Shambhala film had to be. Were you concerned about how difficult it might be to truly capture on film who Chögyam Trungpa was and what he accomplished? More than concerned. At times I was sure it was an impossible feat and I must have been mad as a hatter to attempt a definitive documentary biography on such a being. My direction to myself was to make a film that gave general audiences an opportunity to experience a glimpse of his immediate limitless radiation of crazy wisdom, and to offer his unique grasp and expression of the Buddhist teachings. All the rest of it—dharma art, poetry, humor, drinking, the girlfriends, the Johanna Demetrakas is an award-winning filmmaker whose documentaries include Womanhouse, Right Out of History, and an A&E biography of Richard Gere. Her latest film, Crazy Wisdom: The Life and Times of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, premiered in 2011. She began studying with Chögyam Trungpa after meeting him in 1971 and was a founding member of the Los Angeles Shambhala Center. She teaches at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. Johanna Demetrakas: Crazy Wisdom LISALEEMAN (Opposite, top) Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche (1939–1987) (Bottom) Johanna Demetrakas filming on location in Surmang, Tibet